Sometimes the Trailer is Better Than the Actual Film.

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I have been going bonkers since I first saw the trailer for the upcoming film Escape from Tomorrow. I had already read about the film and was intrigued by the premise, but seeing the trailer put me over the edge. It doesn’t tell me too much about the film, but I know it will be dark and will include a descent into madness. I’m in.

I’m now reminiscing about past movie trailers that have made me think, “I MUST see this at any cost.” I read enough about films to want to see a movie without actually seeing a trailer, but it is a rare occasion that the trailer makes me a devoted fan with money in hand at the ticket line opening night.

Requiem for a Dream. In 2000, I got my first Netflix account (mailing only, yikes!) which opened my eyes up to more kinds of films, ones other than playing at the local cineplex or on the shelves of Blockbuster. Which was why I was so eager to see it, especially given the use of music and imagery to convey drug addiction. To me, the trailer looked like an amazing music video, which, in hindsight, it kind of was.

Verdict? The trailer accurately captures the mood of the film. And it remains one of my top ten favorite films of all time.

Magnolia (1999). I had already seen and fell in love with Paul Thomas Anderson after seeing Boogie Nights, so seeing Magnolia was already a given. But this trailer made me knew that this was no movie- this was a film. The mere fact that the characters introduce themselves, filmed exclusively for the trailer, was something that could go in the direction of trite, but ol’ PTA would not let that happen. Throw in the Aimee Mann song, great scenes without revealing any plot (how could you? I can barely explain the plot of the film in five sentences), John C. Reilly’s monologue, and it still gives me cinematic chills.

The verdict? Clocking in at over three hours, Magnolia is an experience. Tom Cruise does some of the best acting of his life, not to mention some of the best acting of modern cinema. Yes, you heard me correctly. Tom Cruise. Also, the soundtrack by Aimee Mann is not only one of the most perfect soundtracks, but perfect albums…ever.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999). The plot of Eyes Wide Shut was one of Hollywood’s best kept secret, so obvious the rumors were all over the place: Tom and Nicole play sex therapists, they are undercover cops,  so the anticipation about what the movie that Stanley Kubrick took more than a year to film is about. The trailer giving not a lot of plot or dialogue was a good move, and Tom and Nicole have never looked better. In hindsight, seeing the film that essentially broke up their marriage is even more titillating. I still didn’t know what it was about, but I knew I had to see it.

Verdict? I adore this film and have watched it multiple times, there’s something about the mood and the scenes between Tom and Nicole (filled with tension that probably extends to real life) as well as the “what the hell was that about?” factor.

The Great Gatsby (2012) Baz Luhrman doing art deco? Leonardo DiCaprio? I may have also audibly squealed when I saw this trailer for the first time. I can forgive Baz for Australia because Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom are so good I could cry. I had always found the plot of TGG to be bland, but this trailer made it seem like it was a nonstop Luhrman glitz fest.The man doesn’t understand the term less is more, and for that, I love him. I also love the era and thought that a modern telling on it could really make it more interesting.

The verdict?  This film was pretty painful to watch, even with Leo. It seems the sparse Luhrman-esquiest parts were all shown in the trailer. It just proves my point that The Great Gatsby is just not interesting. Sorry, English curriculums everywhere.

Cloverfield (2008). Found footage horror films seem trite these days, but in the historical time of 2008 they were still a cinematic breakthrough. Seeing the head of the statue of liberty ripped off and thrown across the city? Amazing. The choice of using one key horrific scene from the movie instead of a montage was a brilliant move- it made everyone intrigued but still left in the dark.

The verdict? Except for the first 20 minutes of “plot” in the beginning, this was one of the most visually frightening films of its time.

The Purge (2012) The Purge blows its load, so to speak, in the trailer, outlining the entire premise: There is no murder, unemployment, suffering, etc. because one night a year, everyone gets to commit any crime without consequences. One family boards up their house, but criminals in masks still manage to get it and terrorize them. Despite this premise having way too many logistical conundrums, it was an original premise.

The result? Unfortunately, the general premise was the best thing about the film.

The Bling Ring (2013) Sofia Coppola has made her career on making films about the rich and privileged, more of mood pieces than narrative stories. I was not as gaga over Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides,  and Somewhere, but Marie Antoinette is visually one of the best films ever made and she does a phenomenal job of curating a soundtrack. I will admit, Coppola could use some help in the storytelling department, and knowing that this film was based on a true crime story should have helped her. Here, also in another case in which music makes a trailer better, making it more a stylistic music video. And Emma Watson tongue-dance moves made everyone forget about Hermione Granger.

The verdict? Bland and uninspired. There was a lot of potential, but once again, Coppola seemed to spend most of the efforts on the prop budget and not much on the character development department.

Rock of Ages (2012). It seems if the entire concept of Rock of Ages was made specifically for me. Glam and hair metal songs put together as a musical? Perfection. I had already seen the stage show, so I was aware of its failures, but hearing about some of the changes that were made for the movie gave me some hope that the concept could be saved, especially with the advantage of editing and costuming. This clip is not technically a trailer, but this is the promotional video that was heavily featured. I was also sold because “Anyway You Want It” by Journey is my jam. Hey, this could work. And damn, Tom Cruise looks fine.

The verdict? I don’t have the character count to even start to go in what an abomination of film this turned out to be. It’s even more unfortunately because the higher concept is a brilliant one, but they somehow spent a total of thirty seconds on the script. The only reason to watch this is for Tom Cruise as deranged washed up rockstar Stacee Jaxx. Once again, given the right role, Tom Cruise is a fucking genius.

You’re Next (2013) You’re Next, according to early reports was supposed to be a game changer in the horror genre. As a horror fan, I was tired of seeing trailers with “jump out and scare you moments” with skinny girls screaming in horror. The inclusion of the reluctantly positive “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed juxtaposed with the ominous animal masks was a great choice, and once again, not giving away any major plot points was a major plus.

The verdict? Maybe not a game changer, but some pretty clever storytelling. And it answered the question: can horror movies also be funny?

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